“Then what do you depend on? My own internal reactions. I read myself, not the person in front of me. I always know a lie because I want to turn my back on the liar.”
Frank Herbert

Chapter House Dune

At Home


For almost three years this post was presented at the beginning of my blog. It was set there as a wish and a reminder for a change in my life. A few days ago I decided it was finally time to let it go. I am at home now. This post is here to tell you that a lot of my energy is now … at home. Though I still write here, I write much more at Bhudeva – an online reflection of our physical home. You can find me here as well as there :)

“One of the most joyous things we can do is to find our place, the land where we belong. Having found our place, we snuggle into it, learn about it, adapt to it, and accept it fully. We love and honor it. We rejoice in it. We cherish it. We become native to the land of our living.”

Carol Deppe

Posted in Expanding, inside | You are welcome to add your comment

A lot of people would need to be convinced


This dialogue between Thomas Piketty  (author of Capital in the 21st Century) and David Graeber (author of Debt: The First 5000 Years) is supposedly about economics. But what shimmered for me was another subtle aspect. At one point Piketty says:

“Part of our role as intellectuals is to say what collective institutions we want to construct.”

A statement that seems to imply that if intellectuals can just say “what they we want” the rest of society can simply “construct” it … obviously. Then a bit later Graeber challenges this assumption with an example:

“For thirty years a combination of the IMF, the World Trade Organization (WTO), the financial institutions that came out of Bretton Woods, the investment banks, the multinationals, and the international NGOs has constituted an international bureaucracy of global scope. And unlike the United Nations, this bureaucracy has the means to enforce its decisions. Since this whole structure was explicitly put in place in order to defend the interests of financiers and creditors, how might it be politically possible to transform it in such a way as to have it do the exact opposite of what it was designed to do?

To which Piketty replies:

“All I can say is that a lot of people would need to be convinced!”

Piketty … and the “intellect” he represents is at a loss … facing an impossible task … rendering all the “smart” ideas useless.

  • How many people is “a lot”?
  • Is convincing a right way to go about it?
  • Do we have the ability to “convince” … and “a lot” of people at that?
  • Who will do the “convincing”?
  • Even if “everyone” would be convinced would that be enough to divert the existing systemic inertia?

All Piketty can say is … nothing!

It is going to take more than intellect to digest and partake in the coming changes.

via Cory Doctorow

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The Sharing Economy’s ‘First Strike’


A good read about a brewing conflict between Uber and their drivers.

A few things came to me reading this:

  1. There needs to be discernment between the Sharing Economy and the parasitic tech-bubble that grew alongside it. What has struck out is the greedy-tech, not the spirit of sharing.
  2. The strike came very quickly – 3 or 4 years … what may have in previous evolutionary cycles taken 30 or 40 years.
  3. The “technology” being used to meet this challenge is old and obsolete … unionizing and striking. A more relevant and modern technology is … a better technology.

The comrpomised underlying values of Uber (parasitical profiteering) have emerged very quickly and its faults and shortcoming outline an opportunity for another group of entrepreneurs to iterate and produce a better implementation.

Maybe what will happen to Uber will be something like this.

I am enjoying seeing the motivation for profit succmbing to itself.


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Why Clay Shirky Banned Laptops, Tablets and Phones from His Classroom


Last year, when I attended the EdgeRyders event I witnessed for the first time (having been mostly away from conference-like social situations) how far along the presence of digital devices has come in contaminating the social space. In some sessions many (if not most) people were looking at and engaging digital devices (laptops, smart-phones, tablets, etc.). Some of it was supposedly in service of a noble cause: creating a live feed and documentation so that other people, not attending the event in person, could partake.

I felt that the devices were breaking up the presence of the room, both of individuals and as a group. By trying to “bring in” people who were not in the room resulted in the people who were physicall in the room to not be present in it. These distraction, I felt, didn’t effect just those who were engaging their devices, but the entire group and space. We had all made time, traveled and spent money on coming together … and then, in my mind, compromised our togetherness … a self-defeating act. But I also felt that my feelings on this were not shared by the majority of people there.

Reading Why Clay Shirky Banned Laptops, Tablets and Phones from His Classroom sent me back to that experience and brought me some relief. Apparently it isn’t just me and my feelings … there is research too!

On multitasking:

“We’ve known for some time that multi-tasking is bad for the quality of cognitive work, and is especially punishing of the kind of cognitive work we ask of college students … even when multi-tasking doesn’t significantly degrade immediate performance, it can have negative long-term effects on “declarative memory,” the kind of focused recall that lets people characterize and use what they learned from earlier studying … A study from Stanford reports that heavy multi-taskers are worse at choosing which task to focus on. (“They are suckers for irrelevancy,” as Cliff Nass, one of the researchers put it.)”

On social media:

“… on top of the general incentive for any service to be verbose about its value, social information is immediately and emotionally engaging. Both the form and the content of a Facebook update are almost irresistibly distracting, especially compared with the hard slog of coursework … The form and content of a Facebook update may be almost irresistible, but when combined with a visual alert in your immediate peripheral vision, it is — really, actually, biologically — impossible to resist … In the classroom, it’s me against a brilliant and well-funded army (including, sharper than a serpent’s tooth, many of my former students). These designers and engineers have every incentive to capture as much of my students’ attention as they possibly can, without regard for any commitment those students may have made to me or to themselves about keeping on task.”

On how other people are effected by one distracted person:

” … screens generate distraction in a manner akin to second-hand smoke … multitasking on a laptop poses a significant distraction to both users and fellow students and can be detrimental to comprehension of lecture content … Allowing laptop use in class is like allowing boombox use in class — it lets each person choose whether to degrade the experience of those around them … The smallest loss of focus can snowball, the impulse to check WeChat quickly and then put the phone away leading to just one message that needs a reply right now, and then, wait, what happened last night??? … Anyone distracted in class doesn’t just lose out on the content of the discussion, they create a sense of permission that opting out is OK and, worse, a haze of second-hand distraction for their peers.”

On focus:

“I’m coming to see student focus as a collaborative process. It’s me and them working to create a classroom where the students who want to focus have the best shot at it, in a world increasingly hostile to that goal.”


Posted in AltEco, Intake, Intellect Run Amok, outside | You are welcome to add your comment

Information Doesn’t Want to Be Free


Another very sharp presentation by Cory Doctorow on information, privacy, security … the talk is 40 minutes with excellent followup Q&A.

Posted in AltEco, Business, Intake, outside, Tech Stuff | You are welcome to add your comment

Copying Brings Prosperity


Illegal Copying Has Always Created Jobs, Growth, And Prosperity:

“In the late 1700s, the United Kingdom was the empire that established laws on the globe …

The UK had a strictly protectionist view of trade: all raw materials must come to England, and all luxury goods must be made from those materials while in the UK, to be exported to the rest of the world. Long story short, the UK was where the value was to be created.

Laws were written to lock in this effect. Bringing the ability to refine materials somewhere else, the mere knowledge, was illegal. “Illegal copying”, more precisely.

The heart of the problem is this: those who decide what is “illegal” to copy do so from a basis of not wanting to get outcompeted, and never from any kind of moral high ground. It’s just pure industrial protectionism.

… Copying brings prosperity at the national and the individual levels. Those who would seek to outlaw it, or obey such unjust bans against copying, have no moral high ground whatsoever”

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